NTT DoCoMo, Omron form venture to collect, analyze personal health data

The two companies aim to develop the nascent market for portable health monitoring devices and phone apps

NTT DoCoMo and a unit of electronics giant Omron said Wednesday they will form a joint venture to produce products and services that record and analyze personal health data.

The companies said they aim to combine their current health-related offerings on a single platform, and then partner with medical institutions to provide health-care advice to users.

DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier by contracts, offers applications on its phones that track diet and exercise information. The company has displayed experimental phone add-ons that monitor users' calories and hunger levels. Omron Healthcare makes a line of scales, calorie counters and blood pressure monitors that save and track measurements online.

The Japanese venture will look to cash in on the coming wave of medical devices that work with smartphones and high-speed networks. The latest versions of Android and iOS both support Bluetooth features aimed at synching with medical devices, and even healthy consumers are increasingly open to constantly having their vital signs checked -- a recently launched device called the Jawbone Up logs all activity of its wearer, night and day.

The companies said they would also work to create services that support remote medical treatment or home visits by doctors.

The venture will be formalized in June of next year. DoCoMo will hold a 51 percent share and Omron Healthcare will hold 49 percent, but the investment amounts have yet to be decided.

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